To return or not to return, is the question on many women’s minds, returning to working from the office that is. As many companies are opening up their office doors for employees so that working life can return to a somewhat normal. Many women are still conflicted on whether they should continue to work remotely or get back to working in person with their coworkers. According to this survey conducted by theSkimm among millennial women, ‘Two-thirds of millennial women say that remote options are a priority. 65% of millennial women say they have a better work-life balance when working remotely. 76% of millennial women miss seeing friends and colleagues. 40% of millennial women say they feel more pressure to go back to the office if they know their male colleagues are.’ The truth is that many women will be unable to go back to work in the office and as a result, they might miss out on career opportunities. Therefore, there is definitely pressure on women as they consider whether to get back to the office or not.
“When people talk about going back to ‘normal,’ they are talking about going back to a society that’s not set up to support women in the workplace”
We all now know that there are a lot of benefits of working remotely, and the biggest one is flexibility and remote work has been a boon for women who are juggling a family along with work because they can schedule their day accordingly. Co-founders and co-CEOs of theSkimm, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg said, “Women have disproportionately lost economic opportunities due to the pandemic, and when people talk about going back to ‘normal,’ they are talking about going back to a society that’s not set up to support women in the workplace.” A majority of caregivers in the world are women and they are less likely to leave their job if they can work remotely as compared to women who don’t have access to remote work and do still have childcare responsibilities. However, with two-thirds of women believing that will miss out on career opportunities when their male counterparts will get back to work, it becomes complicated.
Make the new workplace more equitable by acting as if everyone is working remotely even if they are coming into the office
So, can something be done to level the playing field once work gets back to the office? According to Zakin, “There’s a lot, none of it is clear cut, and it’s only getting more complicated. Companies should get a sense of where their team is to get an idea of what their teams are asking for and where there are opportunities to support them.” One way to make the new workplace more equitable for all is to always act as if everyone is working remotely even if they are coming into the office to ensure that no one is left out. This means that meetings also take place online if there are members that are working remotely. More importantly, doing the best for the company also means taking feedback from employees and asking them how the company can do better to level it for everyone. Just because some people are working from home, it does not mean they are not working as hard as those who are coming in to work. Remote work is as valuable as working at the office and leaders need to ensure that certain groups don’t get precedence over others and hence, it all boils down to the culture of work.